“Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before Me. But Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. He went down to Jaffa, and found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid the fare, and went down into it, to go with them…” Jonah 1:1-3.
Best known from the biblical story of Jonah and the great fish, Jaffa always reminds people of faith the essential lesson that NO ONE can escape God’s calling by running away or hiding from Him! The second famous story associated with Jaffa is Peter’s epic vision of Acts chapter 10 and its impact on him, his service and the spread of the Gospel beyond the borders of Israel.
Resting on the rooftop of Simon the Tanner’s home in Jaffa (its traditional location is a popular stop for many of our groups), Peter saw a display of all kinds of unclean creatures descending from heaven, “and a voice came to him, ‘Rise, Peter; kill and eat.’ But Peter said, ‘Not so, Lord! For I have never eaten anything common or unclean.’ And a voice spoke to him again the second time, ‘What God has cleansed you must not call unclean.’” Acts 10:12-15.
Peter got the point, made the bold decision to obey God’s voice at the cost of transgressing Jewish traditions, and brought the Good News of the Messiah to the household of Cornelius the Roman officer. For the first time EVER, the Good News was formally proclaimed to a non-Jewish audience, and the messenger arrived from Jaffa!
A Paradigm Shift
Jonah’s disobedience to reach out to the Gentiles of Nineveh with a message of repentance and redemption was now “corrected” through the obedience of another Jew, Peter, a disciple of Jesus. This second messenger was also called to reach out to a hostile Gentile world, to the hated idol worshipping Roman occupiers, and to bring to them the Good News of Salvation of Israel’s Messiah. Thank God Peter obeyed the heavenly calling as did the other Jewish Apostles, and the Gospel of God’s Salvation has reached to the ends of the earth!
Today, Old Jaffa is home to winding alleys filled with craft shops, art galleries and stalls selling antiques and jewelry at the lively Flea Market. Ottoman-era landmarks include the Clock Tower and St. Peter’s Church alongside a modern art museum, hip wine bars, creative Mediterranean dining and seafood restaurants. The renovated old port through which King Solomon received the Cedars of Lebanon long ago for the construction of the Temple, is now home for teeming night life and culture with galleries, organic coffee cafés, bookstores and some of the hippest nightclubs in the Middle East.
No doubt, Jaffa is a spectacular site to visit, to learn timeless lessons of God’s love to mankind, and to observe His mighty hand in action through history until today.
See you in Israel,